Cancer Support Community South Bay hosts its largest fundraiser yet, raising $428,000.


Guido Rietdyk proclaimed it from the podium on Sunday evening. It was the most attended Celebrate Wellness event ever, said the former board president of Cancer Support Community South Bay.

About 600 people gathered on the greens of South Coast Botanic Garden on the Palos Verdes Peninsula for the fundraiser which allows those fighting cancer and their families to attend support sessions free of charge.

And the fundraising figures proved it. According to CSCSB spokesperson Theresa Plakos, it was the most successful Celebrate Wellness event ever produced by the nonprofit, raising $428,000.

Guests were treated to small bites from various food vendors, beverages from wineries, breweries and even latte vendors. And people placed their bids on hundreds of silent auction items.

In between live auction items such as a Montana getaway, dinner for 10 at The Strand House and a Goodyear Blimp ride, CSCSB honored dedicated volunteers.

Rietdyk introduced the crowd to Kyle and Diane Kazan, who were CSCSB’s 2023 Honorees, along with service award recipients Stephen Lottenberg and Ruth Schriebman.

After Diane Kazan shared her experience of finding a cancerous lump while breast feeding, husband Kyle recalled that was also a Sunday night a couple decades ago.

“That Sunday night was like any other night,” Kyle Kazan said. Until the following day, Monday, when everything changed.

Just imagine, Kyle said, if you were to hear the words tomorrow “You have cancer.”

Those three words, he said, changed everything and brought about a “storm of life.” For the Kazans, the programs they attended at CSCSB were like a safe harbor, while insurance companies, doctors, hospitals and others all wanted money. The CSC programs, however, were free.

“All of a sudden,” said Kyle, “It felt like the storm was outside and I was in this tent (of CSCSB).”

And, Kyle added, he hoped noone would ever have to hear “you have cancer.”

But, it’s probably inevitable, he said. And when they did, he pointed to the people inside the giant outdoor tent at the South Coast Botanic Garden and said that’s exactly where one would find support.